A file picture taken on March 17, 2014 shows Libyans gathering around destroyed vehicles after a car bomb attack in the eastern city of Benghazi
A file picture taken on March 17, 2014 shows Libyans gathering around destroyed vehicles after a car bomb attack in the eastern city of Benghazi © Abdullah Doma - AFP/File
A file picture taken on March 17, 2014 shows Libyans gathering around destroyed vehicles after a car bomb attack in the eastern city of Benghazi
AFP
Last updated: May 15, 2014

Gunmen kill cleric plus two soldiers in Libya's Benghazi

Gunmen killed a moderate Muslim cleric and two soldiers in Libya's second city Benghazi Thursday as violence showed no let-up in the cradle of the 2011 uprising.

Sheikh Mansur Abdelkarim al-Baraassi, who was well known for his opposition to the hardline Islamists who are a powerful force in the eastern city, was gunned down as he left a central mosque, medical and security sources said.

The two soldiers from the special forces were shot dead as they left their barracks.

It was in Benghazi that the NATO-backed rebellion which toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi began.

But the city has since been plagued by violence that has killed dozens of members of the security forces, judges and foreigners.

Four soldiers died in separate attacks in the city on Sunday.

Libya's central government has struggled to assert its control over the vast, mostly desert country, which is awash with heavy weapons and effectively ruled by a patchwork of former rebel militias.

In March, the authorities acknowledged for the first time the existence of "terrorist groups" in Libya, particularly in Benghazi but also elsewhere in the east.

In Ajdabiya, 160 kilometres (100 miles) southwest of Benghazi, a bomb detonated outside a courthouse on Thursday causing extensive damage to the building but no casualties, a security source said.

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